Cannabis Issue: Testing the tokes at Bay Area dispensaries
After initially being told by a disembodied voice to come back in five minutes, I submitted my doctor's recommendation and ID into the slot of a teller's window, darkened to hide whoever I was dealing with. Quickly approved, I was buzzed into a small, strange room with three doors.
I paused, confused, until the disembodied voice again told me, "Keep going," and I was buzzed through another door into a hallway that led to a large room, its walls completely covered in brilliant murals, expertly painted in hip-hop style. Along the front walls, a lighted menu broke down the prices of about 20 cannabis varieties.
Then finally, I saw people: two impossibly hot, young female employees, lounging nonchalantly in their weed box, like strippers waiting to start their routines. The only other customer, a young B-boy, chatted them up though the glass, seemingly more interested in these striking women than their products.
I finally decided to go with the special, an ounce of Fever, normally $17, for just $10. I opened a small door in the glass, set down my cash, and watched the tall, milk chocolate-skinned beauty trade my money for Fever, leaving me feeling flushed. It was the best dime-bag I ever bought.
Price: Moderate, with cheap specials
Ambiance: Hip hop strip club
Smoke On Site: No
Sketch factor: High
Access/Security: High security but low scrutiny
BERNAL HEIGHTS COLLECTIVE
Bernal Collective (33 29th St. at Mission) seemed both more casual and more strict than any of the other clubs in town — and it also turned out to be one of my favorites.
After refusing to buy pot for a guy out front who had just been turned away, I entered the club and faced more scrutiny than I had at any other club. It was the only club to ask for my doctor's license number and my referral number, and when I tried to check an incoming text message, I was told cell phone use wasn't allowed for "security reasons." On the wall, they had a blown-up copy of their 2007 legal notice announcing their opening.
But beyond this by-the-book façade, this club proved warm and welcoming, like a comfortable clubhouse. People can smoke on site, and there's even a daily happy hour from 4:20–5:20 p.m., with $1 off joints and edibles, both in abundant supply. Normal-sized prerolled joints are $5, but they also offer a massive bomber joint with a full eighth of weed for $50.
The staff of a half-dozen young men were knowledgeable about the 20 varieties they had on hand and offered excellent customer service, even washing down the bong with an alcohol-wipe before letting a customer take a rip from the XXX, a strong, sticky bud that was just $15 for a gram.
Buds weighed at purchase
Open for: six years
Price: Fairly low
Ambiance: A clubhouse for young stoners
Smoke On Site: Yes
Sketch factor: Low
Access/Security: Fairly tight
This longtime club (502 14th St.) has had its ups and downs, the downs coming mostly because of its location on a fairly residential block. After taking complaints from neighbors, the city required Love Shack to cap its membership, although that seems to be changing because the club let me in, albeit with a warning that next time I would need to have a state ID card. It was the only club I visited to have such a requirement.